The damage and loss of life caused by wildfires is a serious concern for most here in California (and, of course, our neighbors across the Pacific in Australia). This has led to some soul searching about the risks, including utilities since the now-bankrupt PG&E and others' power lines were determined to be a significant contributor to the fires over the last decade.
It has become clear in recent years that local governments, its agencies, and other large organizations are the targets of hackers launching ransomware. It starts with a suspicious email that is opened, but soon the hackers have encrypted files and locked down the computer networks of townships, local governments, law enforcement, and even hospitals. Frequently, the only way to regain control of the computer system is to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin, which is difficult to trace back to the criminals.
Strikes can turn into long, drawn-out affairs where causing collateral damage is more common than addressing the actual issues in the dispute. Thus, it was refreshing to see the University of California Board of Regent’s swift response to a 26,000 UC Service and Patient Care workers, who launched an unfair labor practice strike on November 13, 2019. This was the third one-day strike in a year where the union alleged that there was illegal outsourcing of UC jobs to contractors.
Most employers are aware of sick leave rules that went into effect in 2015 as part of the California Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act. However, some may not be aware that several cities have their own paid sick leave requirements. Under California law, all but a few employers must allow their workers to use 24 hours or up to three days of sick leave in 12 months.
Californians are used to earthquakes and tremors, but the recent 6.4 and subsequent 7.1 quakes are enough to serve as a wake-up call that the long-dreaded “big one” could still strike. The state is paying attention to the signs and has ordered more than $16 million to install thousands of quake detecting sensors all around the state. The idea is that this equipment would provide precious seconds of advance notice that would allow public utilities and services to shut down before the quake hits.
The beleaguered Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) power utility has been blamed for power lines and business practices causing massive fires here in California. While it filed for bankruptcy protection in January, the company has announced that it will pay $1 billion to 14 municipal agencies and jurisdictions to help rebuild.
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is being held responsible for the California wildfires of 2017 and 2018, which has led to the utility giant to declare bankruptcy. In light of this development, San Francisco city officials are the option of taking over PG&E or parts of it. The city believes this would reduce the cost of power delivery, improve reliability and continue the sustainability goals it has set for itself. It would also avoid reliance upon the embattled utility whose future is far from certain.
The repercussions Supreme Court of the United State’s (SCOTUS) ruling of the Janus v. AFSCME continues to be felt. The latest example involves five teachers launching a class action against the California Teachers Association and its local union affiliates as well as five school district superintendents and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. SCOTUS ruled in its last term that public sector unions needed to discontinue its decades-long practice of collecting fair share fees from non-union members for negotiating collective bargaining agreements. This practice, it said, violated an employee’s First Amendment Rights.
Governor Gavin Newsom and the State of California have accused the city of refusing to amend its housing plan to add more low-income housing. According to a report from KQED, this state law drafted in 2017 addresses the fact that California has more homeless than any other state as well prohibitively expensive housing costs. It is the first time that the governor has chosen to enforce it.
Politicians rarely run on a platform of raising taxes or giving raises to public sector employees at the local, state or federal level. This has led to a series of legal battles in recent years, particularly involving teachers’ unions. Therefore, the strike by 34,000 teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District is just the latest of an ongoing series of strikes where educators seek pay raises and improvements in working conditions.